TORONTO—Sitting on her couch, her butt deepening the imprint formed by 13 months of pressure in the exact same spot on the cushions, Toronto resident Jessica opens up her laptop to check if she qualifies yet for the covid-19 vaccine. After scrolling through the list of medical conditions and the designated hotspot zip codes, she learns that she must continue to wait for her first dose.
With a sigh, she opens up Instagram and begins scrolling through vaccine selfie after vaccine selfie from her American friends, her jealousy intensifying with each smiling #modernababe and #pfizerpfriends post. The type of envy she’s feeling is relatively new, a product of the pandemic, much like the sensation of panic upon stepping outside and realizing you’ve forgotten your mask and disgust upon seeing a stranger’s nose exposed in public.
“We’re calling this new phenomenon Vaccine FOMO,” says Dr. John Johnson, a researcher at Stanford University. “Instead of missing out on plans like bar crawls or brunches, the fear is missing out on the immunity offered by the covid-19 vaccine—and then, by extension, the possibility of being able to attend plans. In places where vaccine rollout is slow, the fear is very much a reality.”
While temporarily distressing, Vaccine FOMO (otherwise known as VFOMO) is not life-threatening. Side-effects include starting wistfully out the window, hate-liking Instagram posts, and briefly considering taking a trip to Florida.
“I still don’t get how the American healthcare system pulled one over on us,” grumbled Jessica.
Dr. Johnson warns that even those who are partially vaccinated are still subject to Vaccine FOMO. New York City area woman Chelsea, who has only received her first Moderna shot, reports experiencing VFOMO when she sees her friends Insta story from inside restaurants or in groups of more than two people.
But there is one silver lining.
“At least it’s a nice change of pace from regular FOMO,” admits Chelsea. “Now, when I see all my friends hanging out without me, I know why I wasn’t invited.”
She clarifies, “Plus, not having to go through the internal battle of wanting to stay in vs. not wanting to miss out has actually done wonders for my mental health,” she says, before adding with a knowing nod, “I’m a Libra.”
When reached for comment, Chelsea’s friends clarified that she was not invited to their last outing at the park because she is, in fact, annoying.
“We thought she got Johnson & Johnson weeks ago,” admits her friend Sarah. “We just find the way she blames her problems on her zodiac sign extremely grating.”
Image: Lucas Ottone / Stocksy
NEW YORK—A puff of blue dream smoke lifts from the fire escape and onto the Brooklyn street as Ann-Marie, a micro-influencer and Depop shop proprietor, takes her final morning hit. “I try to do this at least every morning to keep myself grounded. I looove the open NYC air.” She sighs with the carefree relief of a person who has never had to think about mandatory minimums, except when she’s had to buy two drinks at a comedy club.
Jacelyn, 36, a microdosing micro-influencer who is still devastated she couldn’t vote for Michael Bloomberg, takes a five-minute work break to dab from her sherbet pen in the middle of East 42nd. “This way I don’t smell during meetings,” she says, as a young Latinx man who was in the same room as weed smoke two weeks ago is searched on the sidewalk below.
“That’s what I love about New York—nobody cares here. My dealer once met me in front of an elementary school and he told me all about his canna-business while a divorcee pushed her kid on the swing.”
Ann-Marie considers pivoting her brand. “Weedfluencers are getting more potent than this virile flower,” she says, as she shakes her fraying J. She takes a snap of her morning sesh for her more than 20,000 Insta followers before rolling up the last of her bud, accidentally flaking some northern lights morsels onto the sidewalk below, just as an NYPD van pulls up in front of her local bodega. She winces at the lost bud.
Ann-Marie shrugs and climbs back into her apartment, her feet landing on a bright pink weed bathmat from Victoria’s Secret. A haze of grinder fluff encases every surface of her place. She puts the last of her morning toke on her “stash patch,” a soggy wooden coffee table covered in crusty bongs, rusting joint ends, and a variety of half-smoked ounce bags of saturated bud. Each piece, including the “live laugh bud” plywood, would make for the NYPD’s quickest search and seizure, although it’s never crossed her mind.
When a push notification on her iPhone informs her that the state of New York has officially legalized adult use recreational cannabis, Ann-Marie excitedly opens her group chat.
“This is going to make our lives sooo much easier,” she texts her friends. “I was so tired of hiding blunts in my bra in the security line at Coachella.”
Riding a confident sativa buzz, she asks me: “I can’t with the Slack at my job right now. Do you think I could work at the White House?”
Images: Daniel Monteiro / Unsplash